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Peiris: Politics getting in the way of back-to-school plan – Saskatoon StarPhoenix



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His response to the need for reducing class sizes was not much better. Again, he left it to school divisions to figure out how it should be done, “using all capital assets available” in schools to spread out students or even looking at nearby schools with additional space.

While the new guidelines provide $20 million to school divisions for staffing and sanitation to deal with the pandemic, the hiring of new staff to reduce class sizes will be allowed only under exceptional circumstances.

Given that many large urban high school classrooms were already overcrowded before the pandemic, will all these schools be deemed “exceptional cases” and provided additional funding?

Moe said “there’s no place for politics in the COVID response,” but it’s hard not to apply an urban-rural lens to the government’s plan. Everything from class sizes to the need for mask use depends on population, and in trying to keep to the middle, the government is satisfying neither side.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear that the chief medical health officer needs to be re-designated as an officer of the legislature to provide public confidence in its independence, much like the provincial auditor.

While Dr. Saqib Shahab demonstrated strong leadership in guiding Saskatchewan through the initial stages of the pandemic, lately it’s been hard to tell whether he’s advising the government or toeing the government’s line.

While Canada’s public health policy guidelines, other medical experts, education groups and teachers are all advocating for smaller class sizes, mandatory mask use in small spaces and other measures, Shahab is taking a more flexible approach that calls for cohorting students and teachers into groups and asking families to rethink their “bubbles.”

“An occasional case or cluster in a school, or in a family of a child that goes to school should not be a cause of concern,” he said. But for extended families including grandparents, and for coworkers of the parents of any infected children, the concern would be considerable.

Yes, it’s a pandemic, and some people are bound to get sick. But people also need reassurance that the government is doing all it can to protect them without letting politics get in the way.

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Ukrainian Politics Again Get the Better of a Would-Be Reformer – Bloomberg



A reformer is stepping aside in Ukraine for the second time in less than five years — and with a similar feeling of unease.

Aivaras Abromavicius, who quit the previous administration complaining about corruption, is awaiting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s approval to resign as head of state-controlled arms producer Ukroboronprom. While this time his exit is planned, there are parallels — namely what he deems waning appetite to tackle graft and overhaul the economy.

Zelenskiy, 42, was elected in 2019 as an untainted newcomer who could clean up Ukraine’s murky politics, which have been dogged by corruption and influence from big business since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago. But after selecting a reformist government, the president dismantled it on the grounds it wasn’t delivering results, turning instead to old hands. Some were even part of the administration of disgraced former leader Viktor Yanukovych.

The reshuffle disappointed investors and voters alike, with changes at the top of the central bank and complaints by foreign directors serving on the boards of state-run enterprises adding to the gloom. Zelenskiy’s popularity is the lowest since he took office.

Read more: Ukrainian Leader Backs Calamitous Reshuffle to Deliver Results

“Progressive people are replaced with conservative ones — this is the biggest risk,” Abromavicius said in a phone interview. “This staff policy may lead to corruption, for sure.”

Lithuanian-born Abromavicius, 44, took Ukrainian citizenship to become economy minister after protesters ousted Kremlin-backed Yanukovych in 2014. But he resigned in 2016, saying he faced pressure over appointments at government-run companies and accusing a lawmaker close to then-President Petro Poroshenko of graft.

He arrived at Ukroboronprom in 2019 to oversee an audit, and boost transparency, corporate governance and efficiency. While he waived a salary, the issue of pay for foreigners working at Ukraine’s state-owned companies is concerning creditors abroad.

Foreign nationals appointed to supervisory boards to lift governance standards have seen theirmonthly wages capped at $1,660 — part of measures to mitigate the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. While the limit applied to all public officials, many others have now had their full pay restored.

The International Monetary Fund urges an end to the ceiling, which risks halting further disbursements from a $5 billion aid program. Some directors have quit in protest — including Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who’d worked at Ukraine’s state railway.

“The president and his loud MPs don’t believe in good corporate governance,” Aslund wrote last week in a column. Foreign board members “have been working hard to try to improve Ukraine’s state companies. From the president (the only Ukrainian president that I’ve never met), we only receive insults and obstacles.”

At Ukroboronprom, a comprehensive revamp is under way but politics are acting as a brake, according to Abromavicius. “Everything slows down bit by bit with every political change.”

But with Ukraine’s lowly ranking in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index barely improving since 2015, the reformers are struggling to make headway.

“A fight is underway for which vector development of Ukraine will take, western or eastern,” Abromavicius said.

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    Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Slams Coinbase for Its No-Politics Stance



    (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.

    In reaction to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s blog post arguing that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction,” Dorsey argued that the whole purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase, is social activism.

    “#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.

    Coinbase, a digital-currency exchange that has more than 35 million users according to its website, suggested that its push for an apolitical stance was a reaction to a growing movement within tech companies for employees’ beliefs to be better represented by their companies.

    “We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity,” Armstrong said in the post. “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture.”


    Source: – BNN

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    Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate



    The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.

    Tuesday’s presidential debate was loud, but there often wasn’t much you could actually hear.

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    Perhaps the most notable moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and ask them not to behave violently.

    “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

    State politics

    A House investigative panel met in Springfield on Tuesday to look into whether House Speaker Michael Madigan engaged in conduct unbefitting of his elected position.

    Madigan declined to testify, and it remains unclear whether he’ll face the pressure of a subpoena.

    The six legislators on the Special Investigative Committee met for about five hours, with much of that time spent peppering the Commonwealth Edison vice president who executed the deferred prosecution agreement, David Glockner, with questions about utility’s bribery scheme as described in the DPA.

    City politics

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the city is easing restriction on bars and restaurants after a drop in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

    However, Lightfoot said she was not prepared to announce whether Chicago Public Schools students would return to in-person classes in November.

    “We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said, while detailing what she said were significant problems with remote learning. “We’d have to see more progress.”

    At a virtual town hall Tuesday evening, Lightfoot said that negotiations with community groups on police oversight are at an impasse.

    “We’re moving on from GAPA (the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability),” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get it done, we’ve waited too long, we need to move forward and it’s unfortunate that the GAPA folks have not come forward to us with a concrete proposal that solves some of these outstanding issues, but the time is now for us to act. We can’t wait any longer.”

    Lightfoot said at the town hall she would propose an alternative proposal before the end of the year.

    Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Heather Cherone, Paris Schutz and Carol Marin discuss these stories and more in this week’s edition of “Spotlight Politics.”

    Source:- WTTW News

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